Stars studded the red carpet at St. Paul's River Centre this weekend for the 11th annual So the World May Hear benefit presented by the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The organization, founded by Bill and Tani Austin, uses donations and star power to help outfit children and adults in developing countries with hearing aids. Celebrities from all over the world flew in to honor the night's honorees, including Marlee Matlin and former President Bill Clinton. Though these folks have seen and done it all--most likely all over the world--we got to chat with them about their favorite Twin Cities hot spots.
[jump] Kevin Sorbo
As television's hunky hero Hercules, Kevin Sorbo kicked titan-butt while his feathered hair blew perfectly in the wind. A Minnesota-native, Sorbo revealed that while growing up in Mound, he wasn't always living the glam life. "I used to be a paper boy, and I delivered the Minneapolis [Star] Tribune. I was in the Lake Minnetonka area, and I delivered papers for seven years, getting up at 4:30 in the morning and delivering 80 newspapers in 25-below weather on my bike with little buckets on the side." During his trip, Sorbo visited one of his favorite Minnesota restaurants with some friends on Lake Minnetonka. "Lord Fletcher's still looks awesome! It's a great place," he says. The actor grew up a couple miles away from the hot spot and still frequents the area when he's in town. Fun fact: Sorbo used to dock boats at the bar and restaurant back in the day when he wasn't delivering the paper.
Having been to Minnesota several times, country music superstar Garth Brooks says that one place he'd love to revisit is the Target Center. Brooks praises Minnesota audiences' for their enthusiasm and passion for his music, admitting how difficult it sometimes got to gather up the energy to explore the metro-area after gigs. "We hung out at the hotel, trying to survive the nights we played here because these people--seriously--they love their music." He counts the venue as one of his favorite Minneapolis hotspots. "We played here, and I had a great time. This is a great place to play. It was fabulous. I can't wait to get back to the Target Center."
Acclaimed actress Julia Ormond, of Legends of the Fall and Sabrina fame, made her first-ever trip to Minnesota for the Starkey Foundation's high-profile gala. Originally from the U.K., Ormond now resides in Los Angeles. She brought her family to St. Paul for the event, where they fell in love with one of the city's greatest treasures: the Minnesota Children's Museum. She and her daughter visited the museum the morning of the event and looked at a number of the exhibits. The actress gushed about the popular activities for children: "We had a blast with my little one. We made a ton of little paper medallions and things, and they're still drying at the hotel." It looks like Ormond will be taking a piece of Minnesota home with her. "I know that there's going to be a lot of pressure to try and get those medallions back to L.A. in one piece," she added with a laugh.
Actor Gary Busey is no stranger to Minnesota's charms. After being nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 1978's The Buddy Holly Story, Busey followed up the role with a few others, including a part as a U of M student in Foolin' Around, which was shot on location. The actor, who has starred in well over 100 films, disclosed that his favorite locations while filming the movie were Lake Minnetonka and inside the Pillsbury Mansion. He arrived on the red carpet at the gala with his long-time girlfriend, Steffanie Sampson, whose family also has connections to the state. When asked about his thoughts on meeting her folks the next day, Busey replied, "I'm excited about everything."
Kyle and Chris Massey
Kyle and Chris Massey chatted animatedly about their experiences in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Best-known for their roles on Disney Channel shows like That's So Raven and Zoe 101, the duo have been to Minnesota a total of four times: three real visits and one due to inclement weather. "We went through a tornado. The pilot must've been like, 'Oh, look! It's a tornado!' and flown into it!"
Chris cited one of St. Paul's most famous institutions as an unforgettable part of this visit to the Midwest: Mickey's Diner. Excited that The Mighty Ducks and Jingle All the Way were filmed in the famed locale, he made his first visit to the restaurant and indulged in a grilled cheese sandwich, a "midnight snack so I could be prepared for today."
His brother gave him a hard time about his diner order before revealing his own trip highlight. For Kyle, a Dancing With the Stars alum, his favorite pre-gala locale in Minnesota turned out to be the Olympic Hills Golf Course. He admitted that he got another dose of unpredictable Midwestern weather. "The golf course was amazing. We played the first day [here], and then we went out the next day, and, of course, it was raining." Though the weather may have dampened their time on the green, both Massey brothers were excited to have the chance to explore Minnesota once again.
Country's hot mama Reba McEntire has won a gazillion awards, starred in Broadway productions and on television, and holds a special place in her heart for Minnesota. In town for the gala, she was excited to be back after having played many shows here in the past. And while she admires a lot about the Twin Cities, she did have one complaint: the weather. Flying in from Watertown, New York, this past Saturday night's storms caused McEntire to get diverted to Eau Claire until things cleared up. McEntire will be gearing up for another Twin Cities performance in late August as a Minnesota State Fair Grandstand concert artist. She's excited about the upcoming performance. "We've been here many, many years. Minnesota's been very good to us."